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Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Essay

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Updated: May 8th, 2019

Executive Summary

Entrepreneurship is today an important aspect of our economy. Development of business channels is a complex phenomenon influenced by both the internal and external factors. An Entrepreneur is defined as a person who organizes and manages all business undertakings whereby he/she assumes the risks for the sake of making a profit.

According to Mirjam van Praag (2005, 41), a successful entrepreneur and author, “The entrepreneur is our visionary, the creator in each of us. We’re born with that quality and it defines our lives as we respond to what we see, hear, feel, and experience.

An entrepreneur is a person who ventures out, one who prefers change as a means of growth and is prepared to take risks and is aware of the possibility of success as well as the consequences of failure.

John (2007) states that internal factors originate in policies and attitude of the entrepreneur themselves in controlling the business, external factors are always beyond the control of the entrepreneur, therefore these are what account for unpredictability of returns and risks assumed by the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial motivation is regarded as one of the most important factors in becoming a successful entrepreneur.

It is a factor which accelerates the pace of economic development by bringing the people to undertake risk bearing activities to make profits. Many countries tend to give more attention to the development of entrepreneurship because it is not the propriety quality of any individual caste or community (Economic East Economic Digest ltd, 2007)

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal

Prince Al- Waleed Bin Talal is the founding owner of a renowned investment company known as Kingdom Holding Company. He is an entrepreneur and international investor, according to Forbes 2009; he is rated to be worth over 28 billion dollars making him among the 25 richest people in the world.

He was “born on March 7th, 1955 in a royal family and he is the son to Prince Talal the son of Saudis founding King Abdul Azizi Al Saud and Princess Mona El-Solh who was the daughter of Riad El-solh the first prime minister of modern day Lebanon and a leader of the Lebanese independence” (Rick & Kuratko 2010, 49).

He attended King Abdul Aziz Military academy as this is the place his father thought would instill discipline to this son who later moved to United States of America to peruse his higher education. He graduated “from Menlo College in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in science in business administration and a Masters in Social Science from Maxwell School of Syracuse University” (Rick & Kuratko 2010, 49).

Prince Al-Waleed, as he is commonly known, has cumulated his fortune through investing in properties and stocks. Kingdom holding contains his investment companies such as CitiGroup and News Corp.

He has a variety of businesses ranging from health, I.T companies, resorts and entertainment thus he is an entrepreneur whom I admire the most because for a long time the royal family of Saudi Arabia has been an embracement because of how extravagant they have been most especially after Saudi Arabia helped Iraq invade Kuwait back in 1990.

The prince clearly is a generous and resourceful person who is also very philanthropic. Moreover, he has demonstrated that by his own hard work and intelligence whereby he can gain larges amounts of wealth through his own investments even though he is a Prince (Rick & Kuratko 2010, 43).

His impact to the world

The world acknowledges and praises the prince efforts as he is admired all over the world and is termed as a long term investor who has the ability to also recognize the underrated companies. According to the time magazine, he is referred to as “Arabian Warren Buffet.

People became more acquitted with him after the September 11 attacks in United States when he presented a check worth $10 million dollars as his effort relief for the Twin Towers to the city mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He presented gifts as a way of promoting the study of Islam and Muslim culture to America’s Harvard and Georgetown Universities. The gifts were estimated to cost $ 20 million U.S. dollars each. Georgetown University recorded the gift as the 2nd major donation in its entire history while in Harvard it was among the 25th major contributions.

He has made various financial contributions to various charitable activities across the world especially in the Middle East Asia and Africa. His Annual contributions are estimated to be worth $100 million dollars much of which are used in educational fields in a bid to try to bridge the gap between western and Islamic communities.

He does this through “contributing and funding centers of American studies and research in universities in the Middle East and centers of Islamic studies in American universities” (Rick & Kuratko 2010, 69).

Prince Alwaleed drive to Success

The prince did not involve himself with politics even though he was from the royal reign. He has been outspoken because of his views in disapproving traditional political practices thus he desired to be self employed and have the ability to invest as much as he could; these are the main reasons why he instead chose to involve himself in business and financial fields.

The period in which Saudi Arabia experienced an oil boom marked the beginning of the Prince’s business venture. He returned to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s soon after completing his studies in a bid to benefit from the rising oil boom. His father gave him $ 30,000 to start his own business and build a house. Bin Talal sold the house and invested the money in construction focusing on real estate.

His first venture was and is still known as Kingdom Investment Establishment where the gains from the business were promising as he was able to make profits from his ventures.

He continued to build his fortune through making his investments in brand name companies which he considered the market had failed to appreciate them. Companies like, Time Warner Inc., Forbes magazine, Apple Inc and News Corp which were estimated to be worth $21 billion are some of the brand name companies he invested on.

He is an entrepreneur who invests with a vision for long-term return in addition; his personality can be described as simple, articulate and energetic as he attributes his passion to success, performance, and achievement. When the shares appreciate according to Al-Waleed, he sees this as the ‘ultimate kick’ as his investments are those that provide long-term returns.

Alwaleed’s fame as an international investor came when he invested with the Citicorp (Citibank) during a recession period which had seen a sharp fall in its stock price. This investment saw him invest $590 million dollars making him the largest share holder. Citibank is an investment that made him earn 20 times more its value from $590 million to $7 billion in stock.

This furnished his reputation as a savvy investor and a banker. In 2007 these stocks values were said to cost averagely each $42 as compared to $2.98 at the time of the recession according to Bloomberg records (Gerald 2005, 96).

Besides investing in brand names Al-Waleed was very articulate with providing his company with an excellent and strong management team that would help in executing successful recovery plans since most of the companies he had invested in were facing difficulties. According to him, these companies were not badly off; instead all they needed was some amount of money and guidance in management for them to succeed.

His management qualities consist of integrity, openness having a good strategy, straight forwardness and the ability to come up with good management plans. (Rick & Kuratko 2010, 97)

The prince, like many other successful entrepreneurs invest for long term purposes. He states that, “There are some assets I would never sell,” he says. “My Citigroup shares will never be sold; my Four Seasons [the luxury hotel group] shares will never be sold; some of my strategic hotels, for example the George V, will never be sold.

My News Corporation shares will never be sold and my Time Warner shares will never be sold” (Peter 2008, 29).

His reason for holding onto his shares is for the basis that their costs are very high in terms of entry barrier. For this reason, it would be challenging for their competitors to outdo them since they hold and have their respective market share to themselves. From what he makes as his annual income which is approximately $ 500 (dividends only), he is able to obtain massive plunder by keeping a hold of his shares.

What he finds as his biggest challenge is the ability to find new opportunities, that’s the reason why he has at least 10 very close advisors, five of whom are working in the Citigroup banking team which is responsible for assisting him makes solemn decisions.

He believes in working with a team of critical thinkers who don’t necessarily have to agree to all his suggestions although he has the final word on decisions concerning his investments (Mirjam van Praag 2005, 45).

Challenges faced by prince Al- Waleed

Success comes with its challenges, although Al-Waleed is a great investor and entrepreneur, he has made his mistakes from time to time. It is clear that having to look after so many companies is not an easy task as there will not be any given time that all the companies will be running smoothly. A good example is when the Citigroup shares depreciated stimulating the value of his holding down by $ 640 million.

From his perspective in tackling a challenge like this one, one is advised not to sell as he says “When there is panic am always happy”. To get out of the crisis his strategy was based on not selling while explaining that the greatest deals can be established straight afterwards.

He does not panic in times of crisis since he believes in long term investments. Prince Alwaleed attributes his success to his ability to ensure that once he sets his mind to doing something he commits himself and does it spectacularly if not he really does not do anything at all.

Nevertheless, he has faced a lot of challenges in his line of business and still continues to face them. One of the major challenges that he faces as an international investor is the numerous policies and bureaucracies set up by foreign government where his investments are based.

These bureaucracies usually make it hard for him to run business effectively as many rules and frameworks placed by the governments slow down the rate of business operations and even increase the cost of operations.

In addition, the bureaucracies have also affected the quality of human resource in his companies as some of the policies require that any foreign owned company ought to employ a certain percentage of the local population and it also further checks on the maximum amount of shares that a foreigner can own in a locally based company.

In addition, fluctuations of dollar rates usually affect the worth of his investments thus resulting in sudden decrease in revenues or worth of shares in a certain company. More recently, he was greatly affected by the recession an issue that saw him record major losses in his companies for instance, Citigroup.

Examples of other relevant entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial examples

Steve Jobs is also considered as one of the greatest entrepreneurs. He dropped out from college after he felt school was not helping him figure out what he wanted to do in life. Today he runs a company which records over $300 billion in the market cap.

Steve chairs the board of Apple, a company he co-founded in 1976, which is a leading manufacturer of technological gadgets revolutionizing iPod and its family of iPod media players and iTunes media stores” (Rick & Kuratko 2010, 49). He believes in relying on ones own instincts as a way of making very reasonable and effective decisions other than relying on logic reasoning.

Steve explains that following ones gut feelings is an excellent strategy for entrepreneurial success that is why he dropped out of college in a quest to try to overtly chart a course for his life by making eccentric decisions by relying on his gut feeling.

At 20, he and his friend Steve Wozniak, a brilliant engineer, started their own company in a garage and named it Apple I. The duo uniquely merged an artist finest and an engineer’s vision to build what today is one of the greatest companies in America.

Steve is considered as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history and he is described by his workers and colleagues as captivating, creative thinker, hardnosed and a perfectionist. His biggest dream was having a world existing in technological era and he worked towards this goal driving it to success.

He is also considered a hard-edged businessman and very good negotiator in our time. In addition he was able to change the course of personal computers after inventing apple the first computer to feature a mouse and a graphical UI, transforming the mobile market.

He has gone through failures during his work time. His apple company was facing stiff competition from its rival company IBM loosing major sales thus to increase the company’s sales, a new creation was invented named Lisa however, it was a total failure. They invented another machine known as Macintosh and it became a total success through Jobs push for the completion of the project (CQ Press 2003, 143).

He was once kicked out of Apples Company after a dispute in 1985 when he was fired but he did not lose faith although he sold $ 20 million worth of his stock. To him his failure was a new beginning for success as he was able to start a new creative period of his life. Steve spent the next few years working on his new companies NeXT and Pixar which were a great success.

With his great negotiating skills he was able to convince Apple to buy neXT at a time when Apple was experiencing immense competition from Microsoft. Convincing apple to buy neXT would be an opportunity to make a new software foundation of next- generation Mac Operating Systems whereby afterwards he was then made the CEO at Apple’s which returned immense profits including introducing new innovations like iPod.

According to him, what kept him going was his love for the kind of work he was doing as he believed that for an individual to be truly satisfied one had to believe in great work.

Key entrepreneurial attributes that contribute to Prince Al-weed success

Sir Winston Churchill quotes, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. To be a successful entrepreneur one has to continue aspiring to achieve their goals despite the setbacks that recur. To become a successful entrepreneur and business leader one must show relevant characteristics that describe one as a leader (Neil 2010, 56).

These characteristics include; self esteem which means that an individual regards him/herself as of great value to enable one face up tough challenges. An entrepreneur has to have the need to achieve which is defined as the passion and ability to achieve set goals. These individuals show openness to feedback, they are focused and goal oriented and their biggest desire is to achieve and accomplish their goals based on their own efforts.

Business leaders and successful entrepreneurs are keen in screening for opportunity, the ability to know what is useful and what is useless. Successful entrepreneurs’ are known to screen information as they seek for new growth opportunities. This is one of Al-Waleed strategy in becoming a successful entrepreneur. In the business world it is common to see a businesses being established but it does not last for long.

Peter (2008, 20) states “successful people are those that last tend to share a common characteristic, the ability to relentlessly oversee that they accomplish their goals.” Successful entrepreneurs like Al-waleed define their targets which they understand very well by putting priorities first as they work.

Successful entrepreneurs’ are also bound to be optimistic individuals, when they are faced with challenges; they view it as a new opportunity to set new directions. Courage is another characteristic of successful entrepreneurs, most successful entrepreneurs’ are not afraid to take risks (David 2003, 49).

For one to take that step to build a company basically from the ground, it requires a lot of courage especially because of the many challenges one is thought to pass through as the business thrives. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to have low tolerance for ambiguity to incline towards establishing large organizations also many entrepreneurs regard motivation as a very import aspect in defining a successful entrepreneur.

Motivation factors are both internal and external things like needs, desires will power rewards, punishments failures, these contribute to an entrepreneurs’ ability to keep on striving despite the challenges and views of others.

These are some of the characteristics that Prince Al-Waleed has portrayed over the years since he established his own company.

Prince Al-Waleed potential future moves

Prince Al- Waleed bin Talal announced his plans to build the world’s tallest tower signing a $ 1.2 billion contract, a building that is said to be more than 3,280 sq feet. He is also involved in significant holdings which include Apple Computer, Priceline, Plant Hollywood and Euro Disney among others.

In addition, his foundation is one of his greatest achievements and in future, the foundation is planning to introduce new projects as it develops the existing ones as it also tries to alleviate poverty in affected areas. The foundation is also responsible of providing humanitarian services by responding to natural disasters and promoting cultural initiatives as he tries to unite Muslims and Christians (The Architects’ journal 2005, 15).

The Saudi billionaire has also invested to become one of the biggest share holders with about 5.8 % of the media shares of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News and Dow Jones & Co. This figure is what he aims to expand his alliances with the great media organizations in a way to establish growth.

During the global meltdown, his investments faced challenges that forced him to transfer about 180 million of his shares from Citigroup to Kingdom holding. According to him this step would enable future growth since it was valued to cost about $600 million.

Concluding remarks on Prince AL-Waleed entrepreneur

Prince Al-Waleed is an individual who sets a goal and is ready to achieve them by all means. The goals he sets, he pursues them with an unremitting obstinacy and particulate of purpose. His investments in the dot-com boom like investing in eBay, Amazon among others have raised the share holding profits. After the September 11th attacks Al-Waleed increased his shareholdings in Citigroup and Time Warner by $1 billion.

He talks about his investments with such fondness as he believes in helping those in need. Explaining that the Islam law orders that one should give to charitable trust 2.5% of a certain fraction of an individual’s assets, he therefore donates $ 100 for charity and good cause annually.

“I believe,” Al-Waleed says, “that every person, when God gives them all these blessings, has a responsibility to give back to the world. You can’t just stack money – it is not right.” Finally, Successful entrepreneurs invest for long term purposes that are what Al-Waleed goals are when making his investments.


CQ Press., 2003. Global issues: selections from The CQ researcher Edition2, New York, NY: CQ Press.

David, S., 2003. Successful Entrepreneurship. New York, NY: Jeffrey Norton Pub.

Economic East Economic Digest, 2007. “Entrepreneur.” MEED. Volume 51, Issues 18-25

Gerald L. P., 2005. Secrets of the kingdom: the inside story of the Saudi-U.S. connection. New York, NY: Random House. Greenwood Publishing Group.

John, B., 2007. A psychological typology of successful entrepreneurs. London: McGraw Hill.

Mirjam van Praag, J., 2005.Successful entrepreneurship: confronting economic theory with empirical practice. London: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Neil, L., 2010. 100 Rules for Entrepreneurs: Real-life Business Lessons. New York, NY: Cengage.

Peter C., 2008. “Opportunity Dubai: Making a Fortune in the Middle East.”

Harriman House Series Vol 5, issues 18-23.

Rick, H., & Kuratko, D., 2010. Entrepreneurship: Theory Process and Practice, 2nd Edition. Sydney: Cengage Learning.

The Architects’ journal, 2005. Buildings of 21st century. New York, NY: Architectural Press ltd.

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